5 Best Salt Water Chlorinators – Clear Water Without Side Effects

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Last updatedLast updated: May 20, 2021
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It’s absolutely vital to keep up with your pool maintenance in order to ensure that your water is clean, safe, and hygienic at all times. Installing a good quality salt water chlorinator is a great way to minimize the amount of maintenance you need to do and avoid adding excessive chlorine to your pool water.

We reviewed 36 of the best salt water chlorinator models on the market today, finding that the Hayward W3AQ-TROL-RJ is the best option for most people. Designed for above-ground pools of up to 25,000 gallons, this system offers soft, clean, comfortable water that won’t irritate your eyes or dry out the skin. We also looked at four more recommended salt water chlorinator systems to share with you.

Our review team spent dozens of hours researching the various salt water chlorinators out there in order to find the top models to recommend. We considered a range of different factors, starting off with the type of pool you actually have, as some devices are made specifically for above-ground pools or in-ground pools. We also took the recommended pool capacity of each product into account, as some of them are better-suited to handling larger pools than others. We considered the CL power too, which shows how much chlorine is actually produced each day by the system, as well as the salinity range, which tells us how salty the water will get with the use of the system. Check out our findings in the table below, followed by detailed reviews of each chlorinator and a buying guide further down the page.

Top 5 Salt Water Chlorinators Review 2021


Hayward W3AQ-TROL-RJEditor’s Choice

  • Pool type: above-ground
  • Pool capacity: up to 25000 gal
  • CL power: 0.9 lbs/day
  • Salinity range: 2800-4300 ppm
  • Warranty: 1-year limited

Extra features: independent flow sensor, boost mode, self-cleaning, 15 ft cable

If you’re looking for a brand new salt water chlorination system for your swimming pool and want to buy from the best in the business, we can wholeheartedly recommend the Hayward W3AQ-TROL-RJ. This is easily one of the top rated swimming pool salt chlorination systems out there right now, trusted by countless pool owners all across America.

Designed for use in above ground pools, the Hayward W3AQ-TROL-RJ provides some of the smoothest, softest, most pleasant water around. You won’t have to worry about any eye irritation, skin dryness, or other issues when using this system, as its CL power levels of 0.9 lbs per day are just right for keeping the pool water clean without causing any of those nasty side effects associated with chlorine in general.

In terms of extra features, the Hayward W3AQ-TROL-RJ comes with a whole bunch of additional functions to make it even more appealing to the average user. It has a self-cleaning mode, a boost mode, and a 24-hour timer that lets it operate automatically with ease and keep the chlorine levels up throughout the day, as well as a simple to read display unit with little indicator lights to let you know if anything goes wrong or any maintenance is required. It’s easy to install too, requiring about 30 minutes of installation in total, and the only real downside is that some users say it isn’t the most durable device on the market and requires regular maintenance to remain in top condition.

What makes it special?

  • Plenty of extra features
  • Produces clean and comfortable water
  • Easy and quick installation
  • Useful indicator lights

What cons did we find?

  • Regular maintenance checks required

Solaxx CLG10ABest Value

  • Pool type: above-ground
  • Pool capacity: up to 20000 gal
  • CL power: 0.4 lbs/day
  • Salinity range: 3000 ppm
  • Warranty: 1-year limited

Extra features: easy installation, programmable digital timer, LED indicator

Next up on our list of best salt water chlorinators is the Solaxx CLG10A. By far one of the top value options you can buy today, this model is available at a super price and offers a surprising amount of flexible functionality too. It’s a big winner in every department, from its salinity range which is nice and comfortable at 3,000 ppm to its CL power which is particularly low at just 0.4 lbs per day.

Since the amount of chlorine generated by the Solaxx CLG10A is actually quite low, it won’t do well in bigger pools and is only suited for those of up to 20,000 gallons in general. However, if your pool is the right size for this model, it can really work wonders and help you enjoy high quality, clean water with minimal maintenance for years to come.

With a robust salt cell covered in commercial grade titanium cell plates and a sturdy digital power supply, the Solaxx CLG10A was clearly built to last. It’s made from top quality materials and produces super smooth-feeling pool water, free from the risks of eye or skin irritation, and it definitely won’t do any damage to your bathing suits either. In terms of installation, the Solaxx CLG10A is really easy to set up, requiring no plumbing and being ready to go in under an hour, and it comes with a programmable digital timer, plus a self-cleaning mode.

What are our favorite features?

  • Durable build quality
  • Low chlorine levels
  • Great value for money
  • Simple installation

What could be better?

  • Not suitable for big pools

Intex Krystal ClearBudget Pick

  • Pool type: above-ground
  • Pool capacity: up to 15000 gal
  • CL power: 0.63 lbs/day
  • Salinity range: 3000-4000 ppm
  • Warranty: 2-year limited

Extra features: digital indicator, self-cleaning, boost mode, flow sensor, plug-in option

The next entry on our list of the top rated salt water chlorinators is the Intex Krystal Clear. Designed for smaller pools and not suitable for those with bigger pools, this model is powered with E.C.O. (electrocatalytic oxidation) to provide the cleanest, smoothest, and most environmentally friendly water around. If you care about the environment and your own health and comfort while using your pool, this is one of the top models you can choose today.

The Intex Krystal Clear provides only the cleanest and freshest water for your pool without any of the negative side effects associated with toxic or dangerous pool chemicals. Meanwhile, the process of electrocatalytic oxidation helps to split the water molecules into potent oxidants for even more effective water-cleaning potential.  It really is one of the best models you can buy if you want you and your fellow pool users to feel safe and comfortable every single time you take a swim.

As for the device itself, it comes in a sleek and compact form with a simple to use control panel and indicator lights showing any issues like high salt, low salt, or a need for service. There’s a boost mode for when you want to give the pool a deeper clean, a timer for automatic functionality, a self clean mode to minimize the need for maintenance, and the whole thing comes with an impressive 2-year warranty as well.

What stands out?

  • Long warranty
  • Compact design
  • Very powerful pool cleaning
  • Useful extra features

What cons did we manage to find?

  • Only for small pools

Pentair 520555 IntelliChlor IC40Best Installation

  • Pool type: not specified
  • Pool capacity: up to 40000 gal
  • CL power: 1.4 lbs/day
  • Salinity range: 3200-3400 ppm
  • Warranty: 60-days limited

Extra features: digital indicator, self-cleaning, boost mode, flow sensor

When you buy a salt water chlorinator, one of the most important things to think about is the installation process. If you have to hire a professional pool worker to come out to your property and spend a long time getting the system fitted, this can drastically affect the initial cost of your system. Well, if you’re looking for a chlorinator that can be installed with ease, allow us to introduce the Pentair 520555 IntelliChlor IC40.

By far one of the simplest systems on the market right now, this salt chlorine generator cell sets the standards for chlorine generator technology. As the salt flows through the powerful generator cell, it becomes electrolytically converted to pure chlorine, sent out into the pool water to keep it clean and fresh. While other chlorine additives have to be refreshed and reused again and again, this generator cell makes chlorine from the same batch of salt again and again, working wonders to keep your pool feeling safe and comfortable for all.

It features self-cleaning, so you won’t have to worry about doing much maintenance, and it comes with an easy to read display showing all the data you need to know like salt levels, cell cleanliness, and water flow. You can simply press a couple of buttons to adjust the functionality of the Pentair 520555 IntelliChlor IC40 as needed, an it even comes with an automatic shut down feature to protect the unit in certain conditions. On the downside, it has a short warranty and only works in conjunction with the Intellichlor Power Center, which is sold separately.

Why are we impressed?

  • Produces very clean water
  • Virtually no maintenance needed
  • Very fast and easy installation
  • Simple to use

What negatives must you be aware of?

  • Some parts sold separately

CircuPool Universal 40Best for Large Pools

  • Pool type: above-ground
  • Pool capacity: up to 45000 gal
  • CL power: 2 lbs/day
  • Salinity range: 2800-4500 ppm
  • Warranty: 4-year limited

Extra features: digital screen indicator, self-cleaning, boost mode, flow sensor, plug-in option

Last but not least, we have another of our top rated pool salt water chlorinator systems, the CircuPool Universal 40. If you have a large pool, you’ll know that many of the chlorinators out there just aren’t powerful enough to cope with all that water, but the CircuPool Universal 40 can handle pools of up to 45,000 gallons, making it one of the strongest and most efficient pool chlorinators around and a great match for big-sized pools.

It comes at a high price, but the CircuPool Universal 40 lives up to its price tag with very powerful performance levels, including CL power of 2 lbs per day and a salinity range of 2,800 to 4,500 ppm. Even with that potentially high salinity range, the water never feels too salty and remains very smooth and comfortable, according to the vast majority of users of this system. It also comes with a clever display case that can be viewed through a window in the door, with no need for opening it up and exposing the display to the elements.

Highly compatible, the CircuPool Universal 40 can replace your old chlorinator system flawlessly, even if you’ve been using a model from another brand like Hayward or Aqua Rite, and it comes with one of the longest warranties around too; the manufacturer will provide 4 full years of coverage with this one, and there’s no penalty or reduction to the warranty if you choose to self-install.

What stands out?

  • Very long warranty
  • Self cleaning and boost modes

What cons did we manage to find?

  • High price

Things to Consider

Having your own home swimming pool comes with a lot of advantages, but it can also present new challenges too. Every pool owner needs to be responsible for the quality, clarity, and cleanliness of the water in their pool, and keeping that water clean and fresh isn’t always easy. A salt water chlorinator can help with that, producing chlorine through simple table salt to clean up your pool, kill bacteria, and prevent the formation of algae in a simple, eco-friendly way that won’t cause any eye irritation or skin dryness. Read on to learn how to buy the best salt water chlorinator for your pool.

Salt water chlorinator what is it and its pros and cons

So what exactly is a salt water chlorinator? Well, in simple terms, a salt water chlorinator like the Solaxx CLG10A is basically a device that makes use of normal table salt (sodium chloride) in order to produce chlorine for your pool. That chlorine then works to clean up the pool and keep the water healthy for you and your family whenever you decide to take a swim.

Chlorine is an essential ingredient in any home pool as it’s vital for killing bacteria, eliminating algae, and preventing any nasty microbes from reproducing in your water. In general, pool owners can use liquid chlorine or chlorine tablets to keep the chlorine levels of their pools up, but a salt water chlorinator is able to do the same basic job in a more eco-friendly and human-friendly way. Here are some of the advantages:

  1. Minimal Maintenance – One of the best things about these systems is that they can run with minimal maintenance required. All you need to do is keep the salt topped up and the device does the rest.
  2. Affordable – Even though you might need to spend a little on the system itself and then potentially pay a professional to install it, the running and long-term costs of these devices make them highly affordable, as you only need to pay for basic table salt to keep them running.
  3. Better for You – Nobody wants to swim around in water that stinks of chlorine and makes their eyes red and itchy. Salt water systems don’t contain any harsh or toxic chemicals, making them much safer for you to use.
  4. Eco-Friendly – Since these systems don’t contain any toxic chemicals, they’re much nicer for the environment too and there’s no risk of any dangerous run-off getting into your yard or the surrounding area.

Features to consider when buying salt water chlorinator

Now that you’ve seen some of the top advantages of salt water chlorinators and read through our best salt water chlorinator reviews, you might be considering ordering one for yourself. However, before you dive right in and order the first system you can find, it’s worth taking some time to consider various features and aspects of these systems. Your type of pool and pool capacity can play a big part in deciding which chlorinator you should buy. You also need to think about the CL power rating and salinity range of each system, as well as the warranty and any extra features that might enhance the usage of your system like a self-cleaning mode or automatic shutdown. Read on to learn more.

Pool type

One of the first things to think about is what kind of pool you have, as the salt water chlorinator you buy might be better-suited to one pool type or another. The Intex Krystal Clear, for example, is one of the best salt water chlorinator for above ground pools you can buy right now. If you have an in-ground pool, you may need to consider a different option.

Pool capacity

You also need to ask yourself, “How big is my pool?” before buying a salt water chlorinator. They all usually come with recommended pool capacities, and some are able to clean much larger pools than others. The CircuPool Universal 40, for example, is one of the best salt water chlorinator system options out there for very large pools of up to 45,000 gallons, whereas some of the other recommended devices on our list are tailor-made for smaller or mid-sized pools.

If you’re not sure of the capacity of your pool, simply multiply the length, width, and depth together and then multiply the final number by 7.5.

CL Power

CL Power refers to ‘chlorine power’, which tells us how much chlorine is produced by the device each day. The amount of chlorine your pool needs depends on its size and other factors, but in general, pool owners like to keep the chlorine levels low. Chlorine is needed to kill bacteria and prevent the build-up of algae, but it can also cause a lot of irritation to the eyes, as well as dryness of the skin and can even change the color of your swimsuits or pool liners, so you definitely want to avoid having too much of it. A good option here is the Hayward W3AQ-TROL-RJ, which has a CL power rating of 0.9 lbs/day, which is more than enough to keep the pool water clean without leading to any nasty odors or undesired effects.

5 Best Salt Water Chlorinators - Clear Water Without Side EffectsSalinity range

The salinity range of the pool basically tells you how salty the water is as a result of the salt water chlorinator.  This is measured in ppm or parts per million. The higher the rating, the saltier the water will be. Again, just like with CL power, pool owners generally prefer when this rating is lower, as it means that the water won’t have that salty taste or irritate your eyes while you swim. The Solaxx CLG10A is a good choice here, with a salinity level of just 3,000 ppm.


Don’t forget to think about the warranty as well! Even though salt water chlorinators are built to last, they can suffer faults and failures from time to time, and it always helps to have a strong warranty policy to keep you covered in case any unforeseen issues start to develop. If your device encounters a problem, the manufacturer will be able to cover the repair or replacement costs, as long as the warranty is still valid. A lot of pool chlorinators come with just 1-year warranties, but the CircuPool Universal 40 features a very impressive 4-year limited warranty.

Extra features

Finally, it’s important to not forget about the importance of those extra features and add-ons that come along with some salt water pool chlorinators. These bonus features might seem small at first but can actually make a really big difference in use, and some of the best salt water pool chlorinator options out there feature a range of extra features to set them apart from the competition.

The Pentair 520555 IntelliChlor IC40, for example, features a digital display to provide the user with lots of information about the device’s functions, a boost mode for those moments when you need to give your pool a deeper clean and produce a little extra chlorine, and even a self-cleaning function to keep the device clean without the need for manual maintenance.

Hayward W3AQ-TROL-RJ is another terrific option for those who crave some extra features and functionality. It comes with a 24-hour timer for automated cleaning, a super-chlorinate function whenever you want to give the pool a more thorough clean or raise the chlorine levels quickly, and a digital salt display with several indicator lights that tell you all you need to know about what the system is doing and if it requires any maintenance.

5 Best Salt Water Chlorinators - Clear Water Without Side Effects​Salt water chlorinator installation and maintenance tips

One of the main advantages of a salt water chlorinator system over the alternatives out there is how easy these devices tend to be to install. In most cases, as long as you have a little bit of experience with DIY and feel comfortable with the project, you can install them on your own.

Devices like the Solaxx CLG10A, for example, require no plumbing at all during the installation process. However, if you do want to call in the help of a professional, the installation should take less than an hour with most salt water chlorinators, so you won’t have to pay a high price for the process.

As for maintenance, here’s all you need to know:

  1. Check over the salt water chlorinator regularly to spot any issues before they develop.
  2. If your system has a digital display like the Pentair 520555 IntelliChlor IC40, check it regularly for any alerts or problems.
  3. Keep the levels of salt topped up to the recommended amounts to ensure that the salt water chlorinator can function effectively at all times.
  4. Consider a self-cleaning device like the Solaxx CLG10A if you want to reduce the amount of maintenance required for your salt water chlorinator.
  5. Read through the instruction manual with your chlorinator and follow the guidelines from the manufacturer to keep it running smoothly.

That’s it! One of the best parts about salt water chlorinators is that they really don’t tend to require much maintenance at all, so you can sit back, relax, and let the systems do their job without needing to get involved.


This really depends on your pool and the salt water chlorinator you buy. Sometimes, a salt water chlorinator like the Hayward W3AQ-TROL-RJ will be more than enough for generating sufficient chlorine levels and keeping your pool safe and clean for long-term use. This is an ideal situation for many pool owners, as it means you don’t have to worry about bacteria in your pool and you don’t need to worry about having to deal with strong chlorine smells or irritation either. However, in some cases, additional liquid chlorine or pool shock treatment may be necessary in order to give the pool a deep clean. Speak to a professional and test your pool’s chlorine levels with the help of a special pool test kit.

One of the key factors we use to measure the quality and overall rating of any salt water chlorinator is the total recommended capacity of the pool in which it is used, but how do you actually know if the chlorinator you want to buy will be good enough for your pool? The first step is to calculate the volume of your pool in gallons. If you don’t know how to do this, simply measure the length, width, and average depth, and then multiply those values together, multiplying the total by 7.5 (because there are 7.5 gallons in each cubic foot). Then, compare that value with the recommended pool capacity of the chlorinator you want to buy. We recommend the CircuPool Universal 40 for very large pools.

Many people feel a little hesitant about buying a salt water chlorinator as they worry that they might need to spend a lot of cash on special forms of salt. The reality, however, is very different. You don’t need any kind of special form of salt to make use of a salt water chlorinator like the Pentair 520555 IntelliChlor IC40. All you need to add into the system is regular, old-fashioned, non-iodized salt. Also known as table salt, this is the same form of salt you sprinkle over meals during cooking. So if you’re worried about having to spend cash on special salt for your chlorinator, worry no more!

Our Verdict

Overall, our top rated salt water chlorinator has to be the Hayward W3AQ-TROL-RJ. It provides some of the smoothest and most pleasant water you could hope to have in a pool, with minimal irritation and odor. It’s also really easy to set up and works automatically on its own timer too.

The next best salt water chlorinator is the Solaxx CLG10A. Definitely one of the top value options on the market, this smart, self-cleaning salt chlorine generator works in most-sized pools, is easy to install without the need for any plumbing, and requires minimal maintenance, letting you simply enjoy your pool.

Our third favorite salt water chlorinator is the Intex Krystal Clear. Available at an absolutely amazing price, this is clearly the top option for anyone who wants to enjoy the benefits of a salt water chlorinator without having to pay big bucks for the privilege. As well as being affordable, it features a compact design and features a simple digital control panel.

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